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Bouncing Back

An egg and a potato are in a pot of boiling water - one turns hard and the other turns soft. The same situation can have different effects for different people depending on countless factors. One of these factors is RESILIENCE.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines resilience as: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

I love this definition because of its use of three special words: ABILITY, RECOVER and ADJUST.

ABILITY - This means resilience is a skill that you can acquire and hone. It isn't something many people are born with and have to work on just like walking, talking, reading, and writing.

RECOVER - This means that they are not unaffected by the misfortune or change, but can more easily bounce back. Resilient people are not invincible, they just have the important skills to endure and survive negative circumstances.

ADJUST - This means that some situations do not change, but that the person changes to better accommodate those situations. When we cannot change our reality, we must change ourselves to cope with and thrive despite our reality.

Assess your resiliency: Resilience Questionnaire

The American Psychological Association identified ways to increase resilience:

  • Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience.

  • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

  • Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

  • Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"

  • Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.

  • Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

  • Keep things in perspective. Try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective.

  • Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

  • Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.

  • Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.

The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

Ready to boost your bounce back abilities? A counselor can help.


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